Technically that should be: teenagers are the most lonely people in the world, but loneliest had a deeper sting.
I wrote this years ago, yet it always throat punches me when I revisit it.
Read on, teacher gang.
So far this summer break, I have only seen 3 old students. 2 of those were old seniors I taught who are adults now... drinking age, actually. Which is freaky as Hell to me. And 1 freshman, at Publix. Summer break seems it just is what it is.
It's not really the turn up and lavish life we see portrayed on TV and social media. Below is my last week of school thoughts-- how I really need to humble myself and remember how blessed not only I am, but how my children are coming up.
With the school year coming to an end, teachers are going crazy.
Kids get antsy for summer break and freedom from the over air conditioned classrooms.
They want to be on their phones until the stars fade into daylight.
They want to show off their tan lines and sunburned skin.
They are little adults, after all, and we love summer too.
So I get it.
By the way, on their phones, they are so over Netflix. I see we are still posting “need a good show to binge” or “Netflix recommendations.” But no folks, that is ancient history. They are on YouTube or watching streamers IRL. Code “IRL” means in real life.
From all of this, I realize age is finally before me. My students officially think I am old and played out and I’m over here like “whoah, whoah, I’m still in my twenties.”
But to them, 28 is 30, and 30 is 50. Even I realize the huge age gap now teaching freshman this year, my kids have been 13-15. I am twice their age! When I first began teaching, I was only 23. My students were 17-19. I think I was considered much more relatable then.
Before I blabber too much, I will say that the saddest though occurred to me.
In the midst of me struggling for summer to begin, my students have been on my nerves more than normal. I hate to say that, but really on my damn nerves! Same way your own children or siblings annoy you at the house, type of love-annoy.
Over drinks with a fellow teacher, she couldn’t deny the same feeling.
Each minute annoyance is amplified. And it seems our names are called a million times in a 60 second span.
They are so needy right now.
And the words just fell out of my mouth when I was actually defending the students and said, “well teenagers have to be the loneliest people in the world.”
Then I actually felt like a bad person—not a bad teacher, type bad: just like an all-around shit human.
I had what kids like to call “cool parents.”
I had friends and boyfriends staying the night 7 days per week. We could basically do what we want be it curse, drink, scream and run, cook late at night. As long as I cleaned up the mess and did yard work, I was in the clear.
With the generations changing, many kids get home and lock up in their room for the night. Some teens talk to their parents, sure. But most are attached to their wall (because their phone has to charge, duh) and living on social media or through the lenses of these streamers with their awesome lives.
They are beginning to have responsibilities like an adult—not paying bills, but dealing with emotional and social problems that are more grown up like. However, at home they are still very much a kid.
And with that comes a lot of isolation when you are at the weird in between age.
Sure, by junior and senior year, some are pretty lucky and can just take off for the beach or parties on the weekends. However, many can’t. And they are well aware of the all-encompassing awesome life their peers are having. They get to see it seconds after the story posts to Snap, then hear about it in real life—excuse me IRL, when they see their classmates.
I bet that sucks.
They probably have been increasingly annoying, because well 28 is old, but not “as old as my mom” old just yet.
If I hear a “damn” or a “bitch” slip out I must admit, I don’t freak out as bad as I should.
If they tell me some crazy, irrational, dramatic story, I don’t give a long lecture. I usually say, “yo, that’s crazy” or “so why does that even bother you?”
I don’t give them the “should have done this,” or “better off if you said that.”
Regretfully, as summer approaches, they are super comfortable after a semester of warming up to me. And they are talking my brain into an aneurism these last two weeks.
Some kids will be on permanent baby sitter duty for siblings, nieces, and cousins this summer because mom is single or grandma is damn tired from raising kids, then grandkids, then great grands.
You know, maybe momma has worked hard and needs a little break.
Or maybe she gets to save a little money on daycare.
That’s not the summer the kids are dreaming on currently, but it may be the summer they are getting.
To put it into perspective, one of my 14-year-old students said, “I told my mom she better not have no more kids because I won’t wake up to get a second child ready for pre-k and to the bus stop every day because she wants to sleep in or stay at her boyfriend’s house.”
And that’s what his summer will be, minus the bus stop and pre-k. There won’t be the buffer of school to make his day a little easier. For him to get the break that mom is getting from his help.
And that sucks.
So, I suppose, for about 5 more days, I must accept the flood of conversations hitting my desk.
Even when it is 6 teenage boys all poking each other saying, “you smell like doodoo” and “nah, your momma smell like doodoo” because summer isn’t sunny skies and sandy toes for us all.
Be nice to people, people. You never know, you might have it a lot better than those around you.
Hugs, love, and lots of kisses,